Published on: Apr 13, 2018
The citizens of Canada have been given the opportunity to share their views on new laws concerning the country's Biometrics Program. Canada has one of the world's highest immigration rates in proportion to the population. It's also one of the top countries that immigrants and asylum seekers choose to apply to live in. Canada recognizes that biometrics plays a critical role when it comes to verifying the identity of those crossing the country's borders. Collecting biometric data also helps authorities to make key decisions on immigration. In fact, various biometrics techniques, including photographs and fingerprints, already play an important part in border screening, allowing the country's authorities to check and verify individuals at border points.
Canada is now expanding the range of biometrics techniques it uses for all foreign nationals who apply for a Canada visa, work permit or study permit, as well as those who apply for permanent residence in the country. In asking for the country's input and feedback on the program, the Canadian government wants people to take into account the importance of developing biometric screening for safety and security. New measures will help to ensure that only legitimate applicants are able to enter the country and will assist the fight against identity fraud. Ultimately, this will be of benefit by safeguarding and promoting Canada immigration on numerous levels.
At the moment, Canada gathers biometric data from refugee applicants both when they're already in the country applying for residency and when they're intending to apply for asylum. In addition, anyone who is ordered to leave the country must provide biometric data. Thirty foreign countries have been named where those who are applying for a Canada visa for temporary residency, a work permit or study permit will be required to submit their biometric data. The new proposals will reinforce the country's immigration programs, allowing more efficient, effective and thorough screening.
Not only will biometric data be gathered, but it will also be checked and shared with other countries partnering with Canada in the biometric scheme. To begin with, information sharing will primarily take place between Canada and the U.S. Then, it will progress to introduce automated information-sharing with other countries who are part of the Migration 5. These include Australia, the UK and New Zealand. The aim is to strengthen public confidence in the country's immigration systems and should also help to process applications while making border crossings smoother and more effective.
The timeframe for rolling out the new Canadian biometrics program spans 2018-19 and takes into account implementing all new measures for immigration applications. Also, the methods for collecting biometrics will be expanded and fingerprint data will be used to verify individuals at ports of entry. This will include major airports, seaports and land borders. Travelers who have provided their biometric data, which represents their unique physical characteristics and includes a face photograph, will find it quicker and easier to cross Canadian borders.
Some exemptions from the biometrics expansion program apply. These include the country's own citizens, existing permanent residents and those applying for citizenship, including anyone applying for a passport. Children who have not yet reached the age of 14 are excluded and the upper age exemption limit is 79. However, this upper age limit doesn't apply to asylum seekers. Other excluded categories are visa-exempt nationals visiting the country for tourist reasons. Anyone who has a Canada ETA won't need to provide biometric data, helping to ensure the Canada ETA system continues to run fluently. Heads of state and government on official political business need not supply their biometric data, including selected diplomats from UN countries and cabinet ministers. Finally, anyone from the U.S. with a visa and transiting through Canada won't need to comply with the new biometric program.
Every year, Canada hosts millions of visitors, including those coming to work, study and live in the country permanently. Canadians appreciate how important this program is for immigration and the country's social and economic welfare. A particular feature of the program is that those who are staying in Canada on a temporary basis will only have to update their biometric data every ten years. Minister Ahmed Hussen, in charge of Canada's Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, stated that the new program should help to minimize any criminal activity surrounding Canada immigration. Currently, the program is in a consultation phase, which runs from April 7 to May 6, 2018. This time is dedicated to giving the country's citizens a chance to share their views and feedback regarding the new regulations. The Canada Gazette will publish these in due course.
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